pay it forward.
December 23, 2012
Last night, I went to a pub in Houston with my cousin and his wife. We arrived around 4:30 in the afternoon and got some beers and began playing this hilarious card game called “Cards against humanity.” It’s basically the super adult version of Apples to Apples. Anyways, as the game came to a close, my cousin went inside to refill our beers while his wife and I decided to start playing Cornhole. As we were playing, a man who was obviously homeless slowly walked by the pub and stopped to watch us. I’ll admit, I was a bit sketched out at first. But I suddenly realized that he was giggling at us. We were obviously a bit drunk and doing a horrible job at trying to toss beanbags in the hole. Jill (my cousin’s wife) noticed him, and without hesitation immediately offered him a drink and to come play Cornhole with us. The man declined at first, telling us he didn’t want to intrude. Jill insisted, so sure enough, the man walked up the ramp and joined us. His name was Anthony and he was 63 years old and from Colorado. He had been homeless in Houston the past 15 years. Anthony began telling us about his life and the events that led him to where he was now. It wasn’t addiction or any severe mental illness that led him to his life of homelessness, but choice. He didn’t choose to elaborate on this, but from what I could tell, he didn’t seem bitter about his situation. He admitted that he wished he could do many things over in his life such as meet his 2 sons who were both in their 40s now he said. He never met them and apparently had a bad falling out with the mother. Enough to make him leave Colorado forever to start anew.
Meeting Anthony and talking to him for just the short time we did definitely made my day. I’ve been so consumed with my own life and “problems” lately that I have been so blinded to others. Simply opening up your heart to a stranger–even just for a moment, can make the biggest difference. Anthony told us that he was appreciative of the food and beer we provided for him, but he was most appreciative of the good company.
When it comes to those less fortunate than us, many of us simply want to write a check or hand over a dollar bill and that be the end of it, when sometimes the most important difference we can make is a conversation.
So, whoever reads this damn thing, I challenge you to talk to a stranger in the near future. And when you talk….really listen. Because you can learn so much in the most unexpected places and from the most unlikely people.